Woman, minority, trailblazer: Indra Nooyi is leaving Pepsico
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Longtime PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi will step down as the top executive at the world’s second-largest food and beverage company.
Nooyi, who was born in India, is a rarity on Wall Street as a woman and a minority leading a Fortune 100 company. She oversaw PepsiCo during a turbulent time in the industry that has forced food giants including Coca-Cola Co., Campbell Soup Co. and Oreo maker Mondelez International Inc. to adapt to changing tastes. All of those companies changed CEOs in the last year.
At PepsiCo, Nooyi stressed the company’s move toward “good for you” options, such as Baked Lay’s potato chips and Naked juices made of fruits and vegetables.
Nooyi, 62, has been with PepsiCo Inc. for 24 years and held the top job for 12.
Ramon Laguarta, who has been with the company for more than two decades, will take over as CEO in October, the company said Monday. Nooyi will remain as chairman until early next year.
“Growing up in India, I never imagined I’d have the opportunity to lead such an extraordinary company,” Nooyi said in a prepared statement Monday.
Nooyi is the latest high-profile female CEO to step down in the food industry, following Mondelez CEO Irene Rosenfeld last year and Campbell CEO Denise Morrison earlier this year. The industry has undergone major changes in recent years, with acquisitions, spinoffs and mergers as big companies look for ways to drive up slumping revenues.
Nooyi took over as chief executive in October 2006. In recent years, she resisted call by an activist investor to spin off PepsiCo’s beverage business, which has struggled in North America, from its better-performing Frito-Lay snacks business. Among PepsiCo’s brands are Mountain Dew, Tropicana, Gatorade and Quaker Oats.
Nooyi hands the reins to the 54-year-old Laguarta, who has held a variety of positions in his 22 years at PepsiCo, which is based in Purchase, New York. He currently serves as president, overseeing global operations, corporate strategy, public policy and government affairs. He previously served as CEO of the Europe Sub-Saharan Africa region.
Prior to joining PepsiCo, Laguarta worked at confectionary company Chupa Chups.
Laguarta will be the sixth CEO in PepsiCo’s history, with all of them coming from within the company.
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